Rating: R for some language, sexual references and drug use.
Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) is a garrulous, randy Southern surgeon past retirement age with a booming voice who believes in dressing up for dinner, relaxing with a little weed and avuncularly quizzing honeymooners he meets in a motel lobby. Onetime Aussie Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) is soft-spoken, comfortable in jeans and reluctant to call attention to himself in any way.
They once were married to sisters, but those unions ended in divorce or death, and the men haven’t seen each other in some time. Iceland may be just the tonic for both travelers although Mitch’s fun-loving spirit and force of personality mightily test Colin and yet help to quietly liberate and rejuvenate him, too.
Although much of the dialogue sounds off the cuff and as if we’re eavesdropping on a real holiday, 70 percent was written, 15 percent loosely scripted and 15 percent ad-libbed, Mr. Nelson, a relative newcomer to acting, has said. He is an oculoplastic surgeon and second cousin to filmmaker Martha Stephens, who asked him to appear in her debut feature, “Passenger Pigeons,” and then cast him in “Pilgrim Song” and “Land Ho!,” which she wrote and directed with Aaron Katz (“Cold Weather”).
“Land Ho!” ventures beyond Reykjavik to such picturesque locations as the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa fed by seawater and cosseting visitors with 100-degree waters, along with black-sand beaches, hills dotted with sheep, mountains and geysers. The scenery is spectacular even as Mitch and Colin “getting their groove back” (as the doc says) seems episodic and loosely stitched together.
Still, they get to reconnect, act like carefree kids goofing around on the beach, indulge in a little spontaneity and share some confessions about disappointing turns in life and love.
As low-key Colin observes at a dance club where the vacationers are the oldest patrons by far, it’s been a long time since he’s been anywhere like that. But it was “kind of invigorating” — just like the movie.
Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.
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